What a lesson I learned Monday morning regarding distractions.
On Mondays, I drop my boys off at school early for band. I live about a half-mile from the school, so I wasn’t away long. I return a few minutes later and seeing a text on my phone. It’s from one of my members who put, “You almost ran me over when I crossed the street just now.”
My cool, calm response: “What? Seriously? Where?”
“In front of the school.”
So, I take a walk down to talk to them. She meant it as a joke, for she was well clear. But I was looking down. At my phone. And never saw her.
Fortunately, we had a good laugh out of this, but I had a cannonball in my gut thinking, “That stupid distraction of having to read two sentences in an article that could have waited–and at what cost?”
All Christians in general, but Christian leaders in particular need to identify and eliminate the distractions. Otherwise, these distractions will serve as the death of your leadership and possibly of your church in moving toward revitalization. What’s needed is a laser focus on the majors.
Don’t multitask the Word and prayer.
Allen Huth of the Ezra Project was the first person I heard say this. Read God’s Word without any distractions. If you need music, listen to classical music. Most have trouble focusing on God’s Word when other words are coming in.
Or even listening to the Word while doing other things. Listening while walking or running may work. But outside of this, you will struggle to lock in on what God is saying.
Pastor, be devoted to the word and prayer (Acts 6:4). Without this, you have nothing. The well will run dry quickly.
Focus on one task at a time.
Having your phone active checking emails and texts, your laptop up with twenty tabs open, listening to a podcast, etc., all at once– how can you focus at all? “Well, I’m just ADD.” Well, S-T-O-P. Over and over in Scripture, we see the great leaders focused on “this one thing.”
I love Nehemiah telling those who wished to distract him from building the wall around Jerusalem, “I am doing a good work, and cannot come down” (Nehemiah 6:4). He had no time for fleshly delay tactics, from outside or inside.
Focus on that which is most important. Lloyd-Jones focused his mornings on sermon preparation and Bible study. I am focused on Tuesdays with meeting with my staff in the morning, my associate in the afternoon. Wednesday morning is sermon prep for that evening. Thursdays are visiting days. If I focus on those buckets, I have time for the sacred interruptions.
Know where you’re going.
What is your calling? Have you sought God for an answer? Have you sought out friends who will give you honest feedback? You may be outside of where God would have you. So many pastors leave the ministry because, well, they were not called. They loved the adoration, they loved the study, they loved the attention from preaching. Yet, when many of those areas go (adoration only lasts as long as you’re following the playbook for your people; study won’t be as prevalent as a pastor, and people may tune out your preaching), they become desperate, despondent, and, sadly, done with ministry.
For me, once God drove home that the Great Commandment and the Great Commission were His vision for the church, then I realized that needed to be His vision for me personally.
What do you do, leaders, to avoid distractions and stay focused?